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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Take In the Cultural Renaissance in Marseille


5. Oddball Day

The stunning coastline near La Ciotat.  

Get out of the city by taking a day trip to the seaside ports of La Ciotat and Cassis. Begin with tea ($4$6) and fresh pastries ($7) at Cup of Tea (1 rue Caisserie; 33 4 91 90 84 02), a quaint tea salon and bookstore situated at the edge of the Panier neighborhood. Next, rent a car from Hertz (from $47 per day) and drive about 35 minutes southeast to La Ciotat, best known as the birthplace of cinema thanks to the Lumière brothers’ 1895 film The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station. Stroll south toward the harbor along the Grande Plage, one of six white-sand beaches that stretch nearly seven kilometers. About ten minutes into your walk, you’ll see the Eden Theater, the oldest movie theater in the world (currently closed for renovations, grand reopening slated for October). Continue south on foot for a lunch of stewed octopus with espelette pepper ($30 including appetizer or dessert), the house specialty at Le Sud. Afterward, walk around the Port de Plaisance and pick up a beach tote (from $58) at Les Toiles du Large, a sustainable local shop specialized in producing bags, accessories, and decorative homewares from recycled boat sails. Hop back in the car and drive about five minutes to explore the Parc du Mugel, a 30-acre botanical garden, and the adjacent Plage du Mugel, more of a pebble inlet than a true beach but no less relaxing. Next, head uphill ten minutes on the marked trail to reach the magnificent lookout point of the Calanque de Figuerolles. Back in the car, drive along the scenic Route des Crêtes for twenty minutes until you arrive in Cassis, a picturesque port town and international destination for rock climbers. For dinner, try the charcuterie platter ($18) and seafood risotto ($31) at the hillside restaurant La Cigale et La Fourmi (11 rue Brémond, 13260; 33 6 26 78 53 18) before grabbing a cup of homemade gelato ($4.50) down the road at I Gelati. Make your way back to Marseille and spend the night at Carry Nation, a new clandestine cocktail bar that serves Prohibition-era cocktails in a secret location that’s only revealed to reservation holders.

Published on Jul 12, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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